Boston’s location on the northeast coast makes it easy to get away — Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Western Massachusetts and even Vermont are all within easy driving distance. From beaches and farms to mountains, you’re never far from a beautiful getaway.
Just 30 miles from Boston in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Crane Beach is without a doubt the best beach in Massachusetts, offering pristine waters, miles of shoreline and beautiful views. Come to swim or walk the five miles of trails that wind through the coastal dunes. Be on the lookout for piping plovers, a shorebird that was nearly hunted to extinction; the beach is now one of the world’s most important nesting sites for this species. Also pay a visit to Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, a gorgeous 1928 Stuart-style mansion that’s open for tours.
Portland is only two hours north of Boston and it’s small enough that all you need is one day to see most of it. Start out by taking in the views at the Portland Observatory, a former maritime signaling tower. Then head to the Portland Lobster Co. for a lobster roll and a pint of Shipyard Summer ale. Do a little shopping at Fitz & Bennett Home and Rough and Tumble, before popping into the Portland Museum of Art to see some Winslow Homer masterpieces. End the evening with dinner at Central Provisions.
Providence, Rhode Island
A scenic 90-minute ferry ride will take you to Providence, Rhode Island — or P-Town, as the locals call it. This LGBTQ-friendly resort community at the tip of Cape Cod is packed with great galleries, indie boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants. A visit to the RISD Museum is a must, as is a walk through the Providence Flea Market if you’re there on a weekend.
History buffs will want to pay a visit to Lexington, considered the birthplace of American liberty. This is where “the shot heard round the world” started the revolution — where, as George Washington wrote in his diary, “the first blood was spilt in the dispute with Great Britain”, in 1775. Many period buildings, including taverns and historic homes, are open for viewings. Also be sure to have tea or brunch at the Inn at Hastings Park.
Got kids? They’ll love a trip to Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum depicting an 1830s New England Town. Spread across more than 200 acres are original homes, stores, a bank, a school, meetinghouses, and a working farm — all ripe for exploring. Costumed historians entertain and teach, telling and showing visitors what life was like. Be sure to stop by Kidstory, where kids aged three to 10 can try on costumes and travel back in time through the power of imagination.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Just an hour from Boston, this seaport is bursting with charm. First learn about the city’s founding at the Strawbery Banke Museum, an outdoor history museum that spans 10 acres, and includes gardens and 32 preserved houses (the Goodwin Mansion is especially gorgeous). Then explore the city’s rich food scene: French pastries at La Maison Navarre, burgers and truffle fries at Lexie’s, and great beers at Portsmouth Brewing.
Witches and warlocks and fans of The Crucible will want to visit Salem, which will always be known as the site of the 1692 witch trials. Pay a visit to Judge Jonathan Corwin’s house, now known as The Witch House, as well as the Witch Dungeon Museum and the Salem Witch Museum. Not an occultist? Go on a self-guided tour at the House of the Seven Gables — yes, it’s real — and see why it inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s eponymous novel.